Saddlers’ Smith left fuming at ref D’Urso
THERE was no love lost between Dean Smith and referee Andy D’Urso as the Saddlers boss held the official accountable for Vale’s Valentine’s victory.
D’Urso denied Walsall what looked a clear firsthalf penalty for Vale loan debutant Ryan Inniss’ challenge on Jordy Hiwula.
And the referee allowed Tom Pope’s winner for Vale to stand despite the Saddlers howling for a foul on defender Andy Taylor.
A fuming Smith said: “The whole game hinges on that decision – it’s a stonewall penalty and a red card. Game over.
“Everybody else in the ground thought it was a penalty, even their bench.Why would Jordy go down when he’s going to score?
“There looked to be a foul for their goal as well. Pope has climbed all over Andy Taylor and headed the ball in.
“The ref has given freekicks like that all game – why doesn’t he do it when it’s in the box? Two decisions in both boxes didn’t go for us and if they had, we would have won the game.
“First half we were excellent and Vale were hanging on at the end of it – it was a smash and grab for them.
“But second half we were average.We didn’t really work their goalkeeper enough but they banked in, made it very difficult for us and had a goal to hang on to.”
Walsall began well with Vale keeper Chris Neal grateful Romaine Sawyers’ shot from 12 yards was straight at him before Hiwula’s appeals for a foul against Crystal Palace man Inniss fell on deaf ears.
And just moments after Walsall keeper Richard O’Donnell saved well from Ben Williamson, Pope got away with climbing on the back of Taylor to head home the impressive Carl Dickinson’s cross.
Walsall were unlucky not to earn a point as the excellent Sawyers rattled the post from 20 yards and then put Hiwula through early in the second half, only for the Man City loanee to dink wide.
Vale held out to move one place behind Walsall in a congested midtable. Vale boss Rob Page said:“The discipline of our defending was excellent and I thought we thoroughly deserved the three points and the cleansheet. Clean sheets have been a bit of a bugbear for us, we’ve been leaking goals that we could do without so to get one today was terrific.
“I thought the penalty incident could have gone either way, if I’m honest, but sometimes you need a bit of luck in football.
“I’ve said to the boys at the end, that’s the level of performance that we want week in, week out.
“We’ve got to do that consistently.”
STAR MAN CARL DICKIN